Make New Friends

Market research gurus at the NPD Group Inc. have released the most recent monthly results from “Fast Checks Study: Consumers Speak Out on the U.S. Economy.”

The report shows that consumers are changing their shopping purchase patterns. In July, 34% of consumers said they would not change their purchase behavior, compared to April, when 42% said they would do nothing different.

“This 8-point drop represents billions of dollars in sales that are not being injected into the normal shopping sectors for consumers,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD.

Another shift worth noting: where consumers plan to shop. In July, 41% of consumers told NPD that economic conditions would not affect where they shop. In April, that number was 44%.

“This would suggest that we are starting to see signs that consumers are store and channel shifting,” Cohen said. “And it represents a huge opportunity for many retailers. Now is the time of year to make those all-important ‘introductions’ to new customers and make overtures to an established customer base. We will see which retailers know how to make new friends and hold on to their old ones.”

NPD said more consumers are feeling some “budget erosion” in light of gasoline and utility expenses. The number of survey respondents who said they’re putting more money toward paying their gasoline and utility bills was 66% in July and 65% in April.

On the other hand, there hasn’t been much change in the number of survey respondents who say they are concerned about losing their jobs. That number has remained flat at 34%.

“This is a very important number to watch as it most directly reflects the state of the spending psyche of consumers,” Cohen said. “As long as they feel comfortable about their continued employment, they will continue to spend.”

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